Milking It

by kpmautner

This morning, Food Network re-ran Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” (one of my favorite shows) while I was doing my workout. His focus was “milk” in all its manifestations. The show always starts of with something educational, in this case, information about pasteurization and homogenization, and what and why they are used.

Pasteurization is, of course, a necessity in this day of commercially prepared and processed milk. You can’t be too careful with it. The one summer that I worked on a “living history” farm (we did haying by hand, not machine, and milked and all that kind of stuff) I learned an awful lot about diseases and their prevention.

Homogenizing milk, however, is commercial convenience, not a necessity. Back in the day of the dinosaur, we used to get milk delivered to the house in glass bottles (I believe that the insulated box still exists!), with little foil caps. You shook the bottle thoroughly to mix the cream (on the top) with the rest of the milk before you served. Skimming (removing the cream) was not considered cricket.

This particular episode of “Good Eats” brought to mind a tiny anecdote from my time in England (another story, another day). As the stable manager for an international jumper yard, I was up long before sunrise most of the time. Part of my job was to bring the milk delivery in as sooon as it came. Why? Because if I didn’t, there was a flock of sparrows that perched on the eaves over the back door. If they beat me to the milk, they’d peck through the foil caps and help themselves to the cream. Dratted birdies.